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Hosted by top 5 banking and fintech influencer, Jim Marous, Banking Transformed highlights the challenges facing the banking industry. Featuring some of the top minds in business, this podcast explores how financial institutions can prepare for the future of banking.

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Improving Financial Health for All Requires Unprecedented Action

While government intervention in response to the COVID-19 pandemic helped many people improve their financial situations, most people in the United States continue to struggle with their financial health.

The question becomes whether policymakers, financial services providers, employers, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders will take advantage of opportunity to create policies and solutions that support the long-term expansion of financial wellbeing for all.

Our guest on the Banking Transformed podcast is Jennifer Tescher, Founder & CEO of the Financial Health Network. She discusses the changes to financial wellbeing that have occurred since the pandemic, while also presenting several warnings.

This episode of Banking Transformed is sponsored by FIS.

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This episode of Banking Transformed is sponsored by mParticle.

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Jim Marous:
Hello, and welcome to Banking Transformed. I'm your host, Jim Marous owner and CEO, the Digital Banking Report and co-publisher of The Financial Brand. While government intervention respond to COVID-19 help many people improve their financial situations, most people in the United States continue to struggle with their financial health. The question becomes whether policymakers, financial services providers, employers, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders will take advantage of the opportunity to create policies and solutions that support the long term expansion of financial wellbeing for all. Our guests in the Banking Transformed podcast is Jennifer Tescher, founder and CEO of the Financial Health Network. She discusses the changes in the financial wellbeing have occurred since the pandemic while also presenting several warnings.

Jim Marous:
According to research done by the Financial Health Network, about two thirds of the U.S. population is considered either financially coping or financially vulnerable, meaning that they struggle to save, spend, borrow, or plan in ways that allow them to be resilient and seize opportunities. While there's been some improvement since Jennifer Tescher was last on the show in early 2020, many challenges remain. So welcome back to the show, Jennifer. Before we start, could you provide our listeners who may not know who you are, a short background or on your background, as well as the background of the Financial Health Network?

Jennifer Tescher:
Sure, Jim. And thanks for having me on, it's so nice to be with you again. I feel like because of COVID video is the closest I can get to actually being with people so it's nice to be with you. I have been at the helm of the Financial Health Network for almost 18 years. It was originally called the Center for Financial Services Innovation. I like to say that this is about the last thing on earth I thought I'd be doing, I am a former journalist. I have journalism degrees and was a newspaper reporter in Charlotte many, many years ago, but was always interested and passionate about issues about poverty and inequality and ended up at a community development bank of all places back in the day.

Jennifer Tescher:
And all of my work there ultimately led to the creation of what's now the Financial Health Network. We're a network. We're a resource for private sector companies, innovators, regulators and policy makers who understand that they play an important role in the financial lives of their customers, their employees, and the communities in which they operate and they want to take steps to do their part to help improve financial health for all.

Jim Marous:
It's interesting, as I mentioned the intro at our show, while there were some improvements to the financial health of Americans during the pandemic, many were temporary behavioral changes, maybe artificially stimulated by the government or unequal across demographic segments. Where are we today in your opinion?

Jennifer Tescher:
I couldn't agree more with your assessment. In fact, our 2021 pulse research showed that financial health was at record high levels. 34% were financially healthy in 2021, back in 2029, that was only 29%. And in fact, in 2019, 17% of Americans were financially vulnerable and that was down to 14% in 2021. So in some ways counterintuitive, but all of the stimulus that the government provided, whether it was in the form of pandemic aid or extended unemployment benefits, coupled with the reduced spending that people had just simply because they weren't able to do as much as they could before really bolstered people's finances in an incredibly positive way. But you're right, we don't think that going to last we're already starting to see balances come down.

Jennifer Tescher:
In fact, I heard on NPR this morning, a piece about some new bank rate, a new bank rate survey that showed that the people who had $1,000 in savings for emergencies, that that was already going down. The save rate is continuing to go down. And while there are parts of the economy that feel quite strong. We've got a labor market that's seemingly on fire. The stock market is wobbling some, but has had incredible growth. Corporate earnings seem to be doing quite well in most sectors. People are still challenged in part because inflation is putting even greater pressure on the things that were already expensive to begin with.

Jennifer Tescher:
And to the point that you made earlier, financial health is not equitably distributed. And all of the folks who you would expect to be more financially challenged are, so while 39% of white individuals are considered financially healthy, only 21% of blacks and 24% of Latinx individuals are. Men are more financially healthy than women. They're 43% of them are financially healthy, for women, 26%. Same thing with disabilities. People with disabilities are less financially healthy, LGBTQ individuals, less financially healthy. And so it's clear that we have a set of systemic issues that are ultimately driving these kinds of financial health disparities.

Jim Marous:
Well, some of the things you mentioned such the stock market, things like this don't really impact those who are financially vulnerable. From your perspective today, what are the biggest challenges facing those who are financially vulnerable and what is your a perspective on how we address these challenges?

Jennifer Tescher:
The first thing I always say and answer to this question is money. Listen, income isn't the biggest driver of financial health, but it would be ludicrous for me to sit here and say that it has no connection. We've seen for the first time in a very long time upward pressure on wages, which I think is a fantastic development. But as I said a minute ago, the really high inflation we're seeing right now is putting a damper on the effect of that wage gain in a really real way, because we're seeing inflation, not just on things like a new car, but on things like groceries, other kinds of day to day expenses that hit everybody. So I think that incomes are critical around financial health.

Jennifer Tescher:
I think the other thing that's a really big driver are the other major critical expense in people's lives that are also through the roof. So healthcare, particularly an issue in the pandemic, but already problematic before that, huge issues there. And we know that there's a bidirectional connection between financial health and physical and mental health. So financial stress can actually create or drive illness and being treated for illness can put pressure on one's financial health. So that one is very serious. I also think things like the cost of college, I'm in that boat now, my older daughter is a freshman and I am incredibly privileged to be able to send her to college and to find a way to pay for it. It's extraordinarily expensive and that's true for everyone. We see that the rates of student debt are continuing to mount and really are holding people back. So I think expense, debt, and ultimately the need for more income are probably some of the biggest drivers.

Jim Marous:
Well, it's interesting. There's a great deal debate right now, going on in Washington around the definition of financial infrastructure and the role government should play in securing the financial of the Americans in most need. This obviously covers a lot of territory from childcare support to healthcare support that you mentioned as well as minimum wages. Where do we start now that the government assisted programs have pretty much expired? Where do you think we need to go? And knowing that we can't do everything and as much as we'd like to, where should the government start? And then in addition, where should business pick up to help those employees that they have in making sure that they're financially healthy?

Jennifer Tescher:
We really need to find a way to pass some version of build back better. That's not a political statement, let's call it something different. That's fine. I don't really care what we call it. The fact is there has got to be a way to put together a package of some of the most critical social infrastructure, if you will, in order to really help bolster the finances of Americans. I think we sometimes forget that this 70% of GDP in this country is consumer spend. And when we don't bolster and set up for success, citizens, they can't spend and spending is which unfortunately drives our economy. And so this isn't charity. This is about making sure that we're really revving the engine of our economy. I think that's critical.

Jennifer Tescher:
Unfortunately, the child tax credit, we saw huge benefits from increasing the size of that benefit and making pieces of it available monthly and that has now ended. I don't know if we'll get that back because Senator Manchin is particularly not excited about that, but I do think that anything we can do to turn existing government benefits into cashflow stabilizers is hugely helpful. There's been a lot of talk for years and there's an ability to do this, to take the earned income tax credit, which working Americans who fall below a certain income are eligible for. If there's an ability to get that as a monthly payment, as opposed to a lump sum during tax season. But there are things that make that difficult and put a real onus and risk on the tax payer. So there are so many ways in which we can try to turn one time lump sums into more regularized cashflow. I think that's really important.

Jennifer Tescher:
And then I do think we're in this interesting moment where the government and business really need to find ways to partner together to write the new social contract. Post World War II, companies thought it was their responsibility to make sure that workers had everything they needed and that it was the government's responsibility to provide for those who weren't able to work. And then that changed over the course of time and both the government and business turned their back on the worker and put all of the risk back on worker's shoulders. And I think we're in a moment where we need to spread the risk again a little bit.

Jennifer Tescher:
And we're seeing employers who were doing a ton of work with really embracing this. Workers have more power today than they've had in a long time and are really going out of their way to think about the financial health of their workforce, whether it relates to their pay, the broader suite of benefits, and the understanding that not all workers are created equal, that we can't continue to have HR policies that are color blind. We have to recognize that different employees have different needs and we need to meet them where they're at.

Jim Marous:
Well, it's interesting. You talk about what is in effect the future of work. And while it seems like every employer is looking for employees, many people require more than minimum wage to financially survive while others can't even come close to handling the burden of daycare expenses if they were required to come back to work. We have a situation in our family where we have two working people... a dual working household, and yet putting their child through their education process right now for them to be able to work, takes up one entire income. And we have to do something about that because there's no way they're going to be able to buy a house. You talked about the spending of Americans the trickle not effective is dramatic. Is there a viable solution that help to cover this beyond simply the minimum wage?

Jennifer Tescher:
One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been a real honing in and a focus on what many call the care economy with whether it's about caring for our children, caring for our older relatives, caring for the sick, that's actually an industry. But those people who work in that industry are among some of the lowest paid and most poorly protected with some of the most egregious working conditions. And it's just the juxtaposition of these are our family members who were hoping someone else is going to care for in our absence and yet we treat them this way. And so I'm heartened by the increased focus on the care economy and a lot of action at the state level to try to bolster care workers. And it's not just about the money they make, although that's in important. It's also about, again, their working conditions, their ability to have someone watch their children while they go out to work.

Jennifer Tescher:
And I see this in my own workforce. I have a lot of people who have young children at home, and we all know the challenges right now with COVID on top of being able to afford quality daycare. And I think this has been incredibly challenging for women. That's not to say men don't play an important role in the care economy, but we still live in a country where women tend to shoulder more of that burden. And the statistics there about the impact that that's had on women and their financial health is really sets us back decades in many ways. So I think I've seen a lot of banks in particular, and other large corporations increase the amount of subsidy they're providing to their workforce for childcare and I've seen some of them actually do more than that, try to organize daycares themselves or identify people who can provide that care for their employees. I think we're going to have to continue to invest there.

Jim Marous:
Well, it's interesting because we talked about the pandemic and all the negatives, but really has increased the awareness of these challenges. I keep on looking at what I'm going to call the work from home biases that are overwhelmingly, as you've brought up really pointed towards the female workforce, especially these single moms and minority moms who can't afford to go to work right now with the daycare situation being so expensive. And then we talk about the next phase, which is, is there going to be a disproportionate bias against people who have to work from home around promotion and around pay rates? This is an issue we haven't even scratched the surface there because I don't think we really have understood what biases may exist in this new work from home or dual hybrid economy.

Jennifer Tescher:
I couldn't agree with you more. We already, all of us have implicit biases that we just don't even realize. They're just so baked into the fabric of how things are done in many cases. I think fueled by the murder of George Floyd a couple of years ago through the racial reckoning that is occurring in this nation, more people are at least trying to become more aware of some of those biases and now we're introducing a whole new way of working that could create a whole new set of biases if we're not careful. The good news is because there's so much focus on this right now, I'm hopeful and I'm certainly seeing and reading a lot where those kinds of considerations are being considered upfront as employers are starting to think about, "Well, forget the return to office date. This is the way it's going to be. How do I ensure that face time in the office doesn't somehow become beneficial as it relates to someone's ability to progress or to be paid more?"

Jim Marous:
It's certainly uncharted territory. So let's take a short break here and recognize the sponsor of this podcast.

Jim Marous:
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Jim Marous:
Welcome back. I'm joined today by Jennifer Tescher, founder and CEO of the Financial Health Network. We have been discussing the impact of the pandemic on the financial wellness of Americans and the challenges going forward. So Jennifer, financial institutions have been in the news quite a bit recently with the announcements of rollbacks of legacy overdraft policies that hit obviously the financially vulnerable with excessive fees. Is there a potential for a double edged sword here since some consumers might have actually benefited from the opportunity to get a short term loan that were less qualified than other alternatives?

Jennifer Tescher:
So I have to say I have been blown away at all of the recent announcements from some of our largest financial institutions about some very significant changes they're making to their overdraft policies and fees and the speed at which it's all happen, frankly, without even a government mandate. There's been a little bit of a threat of a mandate, but you and I know that those things can take years to actually fall into place. I think this is another example of what happens when the pandemic shines a light on people's real financial circumstances. I often hear the argument that, "Well, overdraft does help somebody pay for diapers or food that they wouldn't be able to afford." I would say a couple of things. The first is I've been really impressed that many of the institute that have been changing their policies, aren't just getting rid of overdraft or reducing fees, they're also adding a range of other products and tools that are actually meant to solve the underlying problem in the first place.

Jennifer Tescher:
So overdrafts, technically aren't loans. People often need some cashflow. Bank of America, for instance, already has a $500 loan that you can take out instead of an overdraft. Wells Fargo has said, they're going to create one. There are a lot of different features and tools that institutions are creating to really meet the underlying need. You'll also notice that both Bank of America and Wells Fargo said that they were going to get rid of the fees to connect a checking and say savings account, which frankly, I never even understood that it's all my money you're moving it with the click of a button, why should I have to pay for that? In fact, many times I'm moving it myself now that I can do it on my mobile phone.

Jennifer Tescher:
I worry less about that. I also think that for the biggest institutions, at least, in the last couple of years, there's already been in a concerted effort to start to focus on the folks at the tail who are really the heaviest overdrafts, because remember some huge percentage of overdrafts are generated by a very, very small percentage of customers. And those folks in many cases are either using it fully intentionally as a cashflow tool and they know that they're doing it or they're completely insolvent and we shouldn't be actually extending them anymore credit because it's just going to create a hole for them. So I'd rather see us continue to evolve banking away from punitive fees and punitive products and instead say, "How can I actually solve the underlying problem for somebody?

Jim Marous:
Well, it's interesting. As I look at it deeper, it's almost if financial institutions are finally getting impacted by the FinTech firms that never had in many cases overdraft fees where they allowed early access to paychecks. All these things that the FinTech started, a lot of the larger banks now are starting to embrace and it could be that the competition is actually starting to move market share to such a degree that there has to be a sit up and take notice. So it's all-

Jennifer Tescher:
I couldn't agree more with you, Jim. And in fact what's really interesting is we invest in early stage FinTechs that are solving financial health challenges through our financial solutions lab accelerator. And one of the earliest investments me made was in a company called Dave and Dave's original sell was, "We'll help you avoid overdrafts." That was their... Every company does, they've morphed and changed a million times, but that was their opening [inaudible 00:23:37] though. And it really took the market by storm. And I don't know if you noticed, but they actually just went public a couple of weeks ago through a spec [inaudible 00:23:46]. And I found it just so interesting. The timing of that with the timing of the banks now moving away from overdraft, I absolutely think that those things are connected over the course of time.

Jennifer Tescher:
Would we have ever expected a little cottage industry of FinTechs focusing on saving. Who thought there was any money in saving? And now banks are copycatting that and the whole two days early thing, prepaid cards have been offering your direct deposit two days early for years and years and years but when Chime starts advertising it and all of a sudden it becomes a draw. Now you see this becoming a standard practice, which again is so fascinating because there's virtually no risk here given electronic payments. It's an easy thing to do.

Jim Marous:
Well, it also shows the speed of change. We look at... Buy now pay later is not a new concept, but the way it's being presented now is certainly new. But the impact because people can you engage in any of this so quickly, so easily on their phone, that the Chimes, the SoFis, the Daves, the Varos, all these FinTechs now, because people can open them so easily without closing their legacy bank account, the legacy financial institutions are starting to say, "You know what? We're not seeing the checks being written and overall, we may be losing relationships while we still may be holding the accounts." Not the best place to be, you're handling all the expenses, but none of the benefits.

Jennifer Tescher:
Totally. What's really interesting also is that a lot of these FinTechs are becoming banks themselves. I just saw the news that SoFi just got a bank charter. We know Varo has a bank charter. Dave has intubated that maybe they'll become a bank. And even if you don't have a bank charter banking as a service businesses are really enabling incredible niche plays. And nowhere, do you see this more than in the neobank space. How many institutions are there that are using banking as a service to say, "Hey, I'm a bank focused on the African American community, the LGBTQ+ community." Very small niches, and so even this language about bank FinTech, like to me, it doesn't make any sense. I understand completely the legal and regulatory differences, but terms of the feature functionality and what you can do or not do with it, they're becoming indistinguishable.

Jim Marous:
What's interesting too, is we're going to start to see that as organizations start to rethink what banking is, which novel concept we've already seen it overseas, that a lot of financial institutions are now realizing that the revenue element of the financial relationship can actually come from outside financial services. So you mentioned a lot of the segments that are being served well, there's a lot of organizations who want to reach those segments. Well, the revenue to drive that financial relationship could actually come from outside the financial institution, which opens up brand new doors for financial wellness and the way to fund the services that are needed.

Jim Marous:
I just saw today also that one of the FinTechs build a relationship with one of the tax preparers and whereby they say, "Do it through us, do it on our mobile app and we'll help pay for your tax services." Well, that's a financial wellness step. It's reducing the cost of what we all take for granted, but it's really hard to do. By the way, they're also giving the money earlier. So it's again saying, "You want your money earlier. You want a lower cost of tax preparation, do it through our mobile app."

Jennifer Tescher:
Completely.

Jim Marous:
The mobility aspect and the whole digital aspect opens up new doors. We've also seen banks and credit unions take a proactive stance in the deployment of financial wellness solutions, such as educational opportunities, new products. In fact, I wrote an article yesterday about what BBVA has done overseas with regard to wellness and that actually the cross sale services, the engagement level is just increased exponentially because of these new services. What are some of the better programs you've seen in the marketplace?

Jennifer Tescher:
The efforts that seem to work most are not just about financial literacy or financial education. Certainly the more we can give people relevant information in the moment of decision in a timely fashion, that's super valuable, but static content or a platform that's meant to be about engagement, but is really just, "Oh you've taken a quiz and now here are some things you should read about." That's not really going to do it. It's got to be deeply embedded with the offering or the opportunity of various offerings and then it's really out the experience and that's why I love your stuff so much, Jim, because experience... When we're talking about this, experience is everything.

Jennifer Tescher:
I went over the long weekend to Warby Parker to... I'm finally going to switch to Progressives. I'm not always in Warby Parker, but every time I go there, I am blown away by everything about the experience. And there are very few brands I can say that about. I can't think of a single bank brand that I could say that about. I was actually just at the bank yesterday, I'll leave the bank nameless with my daughter, the college student, dealing with some very minor matters and nothing about that experience was positive in any way. And it didn't work and it took longer. I think that we've got to find ways to connect the products and services that banks offer to the experience that people want. Not just a fun experience and a convenient experience, but about, "I'm trying to actually manage my financial life. How are you going to help me do that?"

Jim Marous:
It could be in the background, it doesn't have to be... You mentioned, I don't want to learn how to budget. I want you to do it for me.

Jennifer Tescher:
Exactly.

Jim Marous:
And you have enough information to know you. I call the GPS of financial services. I don't want to map that I have to figure out, I want my GPS to tell me exactly what roads I should go to avoid the traffic, to avoid the accidents, to take the shortcuts and to get to my financial destination, in this case, faster and easier. And that's financial wellness and that every human being.

Jennifer Tescher:
Totally.

Jim Marous:
We look at this meat... I love Acorns. Acorns on an ongoing basis, takes money on my account. I remember it back in my 401(k) days that if I don't see it, I don't spend it. Well, in this case they take the money out and I've never built the savings account as big as I have through Acorns. And it's simply doing it in a painless way where I can always transfer it back again if I want to, but when it's doing it's helping me save.

Jim Marous:
I look at PayPal and the way that they use my data for... because I use PayPal to receive all my receipts and make all my payments to my contractors and what that does it gives them enough data to say, "We have a bridge loan anytime you want it from a small business perspective, pre-approved that you can get instantly." Well, my legacy finance institution, which is my business bank, won't provide me that. They would not have enough data to make that decision and so what ends up happening as you reference is what I want is I want you proactively to tell me what I should be doing next, based on what you know about me.

Jennifer Tescher:
Of course not.

Jim Marous:
I don't want you to get me involved if you don't need to. I don't want my big personal bank to say, "What do you want to be your minimum balance before we warn you, your balances low?" I'm going, "You've had a relationship for 15 years. You know how much I need my account on the 14th of the month, you know much of a need the month of the 28th of the month? You know when tuition to do, you know when tax payment to do. You know what those minimums are and what you should warn me about. In fact, I want you to remind me, by the way, you're a small business, do you remember the tax that are due the 15th of January?" That's the one I always missed, I don't miss, but I forget about the last minute because, heck I know April 15th. I did for three quarters of my life, but now I got to remember January 15th, September 15th and I want help with that.

Jennifer Tescher:
Totally.

Jim Marous:
The other thing that we find is that this is again where non-financial are playing a bigger role, that the encouragement they have towards making it easier for me to do things ranging from delivery of food, to the delivery of products. We talked about using Amazon in a pre-call, but that's what we want from our financial institution. We know that Netflix can determine what movie I want to watch next. I want my bank to know what I should be doing next with my accounts.

Jennifer Tescher:
The self-driving wallet, I like to call it.

Jim Marous:
Perfect. Exactly. Part of this also, how do we reach everybody? In a bit of a pivot here, there's a great deal discussion lately around the way credit bureaus negatively portray customers with thin or non-existing credit files. With the data sources increasing daily and the anxiety of our privacy and data security, is there a better solution going forward where we can use more data, greater data, new sources of data to make it so that we have everybody in the financial services marketplace as opposed to simply those above a certain income level?

Jennifer Tescher:
Well you went where I was going to go, which is one of the answers is more data more, more, and more. But I don't think it's sufficient to say more data because really it's the models that determine how that data is viewed. So there was several years ago now a big push to get payday loan data included in traditional credit files, particularly when it became... when it was not just a within 30 days, but there was some kind of installment feature. And the fact is even if it's included, it was being viewed as a negative in the ultimate modeling, which doesn't help anybody. I think we're going to see the same thing around buy now pay later as some folks are starting to say they're going to report to the credit bureaus. My question is, well, do people think using that product is actually good or bad?

Jennifer Tescher:
So, there's more work that we've got to do on the modeling. And I also think that right now, credit bureau data is not cashflow data, it's very traditional and the models are built that way. But increasingly the thing that seem to be breaking through at least for retail lending are cashflow based models. So again, we've got to change the underwriters and the modelers point of view about what's a negative and what's a positive because if we think about what's a thin or non-existent credit file? It's someone who hasn't had a loan where there's a regular payment every month, but that doesn't mean they don't have powerful cash flow data that could be leveraged to underwrite them for certain kinds of products. So I think it's more of a culture and mindset shift more than anything else.

Jim Marous:
It's interesting because it is... As you said, it's a mindset situation. It's also interesting in that when you look at overall the whole aspect of financial wellness, there's a lot of goods and bad. You've been in it for quite some time. What is it that you're most excited about as you look to the near future? We can't go long term anymore, that's fruitless because we actually don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, but you've been in the business longer than anybody I know with regard to really focusing on one major aspect that until recently was relatively ignored. I can't imagine the challenges you had in the process now I'm sure people are opening doors a lot more frequently, but what makes you excited about the future of financial wellness?

Jennifer Tescher:
I think the awareness and the centrality, the people are recognizing not just this is an issue, but they're recognizing that it sits at the center of everything. And I think that also the appreciation that this is not just a financial services issue, that this is a broader issue within society and that we've got to have lots of people at the table who have an outsized influence on people's financial health, whether that's their employer, whether that's their healthcare provider, whether that's their landlord, whether that's their university or college, and their financial services providers. We're all in this because your patient is my student, is his renter, is her bank customer. They're all the same person. We just look at them this way based on what we deliver. But if we find ways to lock arms with one another and make sure that we're not working at cross purposes, but we're all surrounding that person with opportunities to build resilience and see as opportunities, I think we're really going to be able to move the needle. So what excites me is being able to bring an even larger constituency to this movement.

Jim Marous:
So on the other side, then I should have done it the other way around because it's always better to end up on good news. What scares you about the future? What is frustrating about what's going on right now?

Jennifer Tescher:
Listen, the pace of government and government change is maddening. I don't think this is just a government issue, but I think they have a really important role to play given that these challenges are decades in the making and in many cases are systemic. I think that's one really big challenge and frustration. I think the other is when I see people grabbing onto the mantle of financial health, but not actually meaning it. And there's a risk there. If enough people want to use this as wallpaper, it will lose all meaning and all credibility and it will be the fad that is now over in a couple of years because we didn't make anything of it. And so it's one of the reasons why we're so focused on measurement because what gets measured gets managed. And it's how we hold ourselves accountable for change. It's nice to be able to say what's going on in the country, but it's meaningless unless we can actually hold ourselves accountable for improving the financial health of our customers, of our employees.

Jim Marous:
It's interesting because it really gets to a situation where the CEO of Lemonade Insurance said it very well where he said, the biggest challenge to the financial transformation and wellness transformation is legacy leadership and legacy thinking. Change sucks, it's not easy. But the reality is the pressure now is so dynamically achieved by not just the non-traditional finances institutions, but people that are in need and... We've seen so much happen since the pandemic that is negative that I think some of these underlying issues that really are opening doors. I hope you're right, Jennifer, that we don't end up in this situation that this becomes just window dressing. But I tend to think that it's going to be hard for it to be so when you have very large non-traditional financial institutions that are saying, "Whoa, there's a whole marketplace here to be made around people in need."

Jim Marous:
SoFi was actually one of the earliest ones just on student loans, the need to refinance student lending and they expanded from their. Chime, Crane, Dave, all the other ones we mentioned have really opened the eyes to, "There's a better way." And you and I can open an account in an instant and easily. So it's not like we have to... We always thought, "Geez, the closing of accounts and all these." I don't need to close my account to open another one anymore. And in fact, I think finance institutions have really gotten caught by thinking that, "But our interest is so low." I'd be cautious about that. It may look like it's low, but if I have seven other suppliers, you don't have as much of my overall financial relationships as you did in the past.

Jennifer Tescher:
What's interesting is we tend to think about these issues of data sharing and data rights as being FinTechs wanting to leverage banking data and there's truth to that. But increasingly, it's going to be multi-directional. When we get to that point, I actually think the customer is going to really be in the driver's seat and then watch out because then... As we should be, we should be beholden to our customers. Banks have gotten a pass there for a whole host of reasons and I think the future is very much in the customers' hands.

Jim Marous:
Well, the movement on overdraft fees and [inaudible 00:41:44] fees is the first brick in the wall. So things are starting to fall and that's all good because there's good business to have in doing well and doing good, I should say.

Jennifer Tescher:
Totally.

Jim Marous:
Jennifer, thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate your role in the community and your role in the marketplace. It's good to see all the things you're doing. Can you share with our audience how they can not only get a hold of you, but also you have a podcast, you have ways that you continue communicate with the marketplace as well. How do they get ahold of you and see what you're doing?

Jennifer Tescher:
I do. I appreciate that, Jim, and thanks so much for having me on. Go to our website, finhealthnetwork.org, tons of research and great information. And at the very top, you'll see a button that says, "Listen." and if you click on that, you'll be able to find my podcast EMERGE Everywhere.

Jim Marous:
Great. Thanks again, Jennifer. I appreciate it.

Jennifer Tescher:
Yeah. Thanks, Jim.

Jim Marous:
Thanks for listening to Banking Transformed. We're the top five banking podcast and winners of three international awards for podcasts excellence. If you enjoy what we're doing, please take 30 to 45 to show us some love in the form of a review, it helps us to create great content and get great guests. Finally, be sure to see my recent articles on The Financial Brand and check out the research we're doing for the Digital Bank Report. This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to our producer, Leah Longbrake, audio engineer Sean Rule-Hoffman, and video producer Will Pritts. I'm your host, Jim Marous. Until next time remember, financial wellness should not be a luxury for the few, but a basic requirement for all.

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